At the moment, it is impossible to guess when that will happen, or even whether players of the next generation will still be in their prime when it does. Djokovic, it seems, is still getting better.
One of the great baseline battlers who is not known for his net game, Djokovic came to the net 48 times on Sunday and won 34 of those points, a startling 71 percent conversion rate.
“He’s writing the history of this sport,” Berrettini said.
This was not the best version of Djokovic on display on Sunday. There were missed targets and blown chances to finish his work quickly.
He appeared be in full control of the match early on. He did what almost no one had been able to do against Berrettini over the past two weeks — he took the big Italian out of his rhythm on his serve.
Through the first seven games, Djokovic was able to pick off just enough of Berrettini’s bullets, sending them back to those two ugly semicircles of dirt and dead grass just in front of the baseline that make for bad bounces and missed shots. Djokovic built a 5-2 lead and even held a set point, but Berrettini kept battling, fighting through a service game that lasted nearly 15 minutes.
Then Berrettini came alive. With Djokovic serving for the set, he started moving Djokovic around the court. On break point, Berrettini pulled Djokovic into the net, then connected on a passing shot to get back on serve. Three games later, the set headed to a tiebreaker, the importance of which cannot be underestimated. When Djokovic has won the first set of a match in a Grand Slam, he has won the match about 97 percent of the time. When he has lost it, he has won about 50 percent.